Privacy: Facebook suspends data analytics firm Crimson Hexagon

Close up of Facebook logo on a mobile phone

Facebook has severed ties with data analytics company Crimson Hexagon because of concerns about its links to the US government, Russia and Turkey.

In a move that has echoes of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended the company and blocked it from accessing user data because of fears about how that data is used. Crimson Hexagon claims to have gathered more than one trillion pieces of data about social media users, and there are concerns that this data could be used for surveillance purposes.

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Facebook has shut down Crimson Hexagon's access to its API -- as well as that of Instagram -- following questions about the company's contracts with the US and Turkish governments, as well as its ties to a company associated with the Russian government. Interest in the data analytics firm grew following an article in the Wall Street Journal that questioned how Crimson Hexagon was making use of Facebook data.

It seems that the company was not complying with Facebook's policies and, following growing public interest in such matters, the social media giant took the decision to cut off Crimson Hexagon's access to user data.

In a statement about the matter, a Facebook spokesperson said:

We don't allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram. We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, Crimson Hexagon has a contract with FEMA to monitor discussions that take place online in order to help out with disaster situations. Twitter has already blocked the company's access to user data because of concerns about how it was being used and this meant an ICE contract fell though.

Facebook may be a little late to the party in showing concern about user data privacy, but in the wake of Cambridge Analytics, the company is erring on the side of caution. With Crimson Hexagon describing itself as having " instant access to the world’s largest volume of unstructured text and images across social, online public, and enterprise-held data sources", it's perhaps little wonder that concerns were raised.; it's just a shame that it took a WSJ article to alert Facebook to the fact that its own policies were being violated.

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